Current Supplier Status re. COVID-19

Jaret from Agape Christian Marketplace in north Toronto posted this to the retailer Facebook group* about an hour ago, and I thought it was most helpful.

In case you’re not aware here’s the current status on the following suppliers.

Anchor/WordAlive: Shipping & Exempt from PA shutdown
BookDepot: Shipping & Exempt from ON shutdown
HarperCollins: Shipping, No Plans to Close
Parasource: Shut Down until April 7th at Earliest
PenguinRandom House: Shipping, No Plans to Close

I thought it interesting that the notification from Parasource stated, “We are shipping as many orders out the door today before the closure.” I hope the places where they are shipping those will actually be open to receive the parcels.

Parasource also sent a similar note to customers on their consumer mailing list which stated, “We can still take online orders but will be unable to fulfill orders until we return on April 7th.” The company had been offering an additional 10% all last week.

Personally, we have a small box from another supplier missing at the moment. It was box #14 of a 14-carton order. The customer says he’ll only show up when we find the other box. Sigh!

*If you’re not part of this, email me for info on who to contact.

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Supplier Memories

Given the state of our world, I thought some of you could use a two minute distraction. I’m guessing some of you are working from home today. How many of these suppliers are still with us? Does anyone know what year this would have been? (Hint: August 6th was a Wednesday.)

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Brant Hansen Spoofs Book Trailers

I reviewed the book here a week ago, but wanted to share this as well.

Ontario Author to Parents: Kids Won’t Automatically ‘Catch’ Your Faith

Just take them to Church each weekend and your kids will ‘catch’ it, right? In a sense, that may have been more true in previous generations than it is today. But many parents are finding they singularly can’t take anyone spiritually beyond where they are themselves without help.

Some good input for parents comes from Ontario’s Natalie Frisk in her new book, Raising Disciples: How to Make Faith Matter to our Kids (Herald Press). After her undergrad work at Redeemer University in Ancaster (Hamilton), she completed her Master’s degree at the same city’s McMaster Divinity School.

In a recent interview with Redeemer’s Resound magazine, the story unfolds as to how the book came to be:

Throughout her time as a youth pastor, Frisk would get a lot of questions from parents about having their kids follow Jesus. “I started to keep track of that with no real plan for what to do with it at the time,” she says.

It wasn’t until later, when an editor from a publishing company asked to meet with her, that she realized she had some great material for her book.

“It is the shared wisdom of so many people who have been part of my spiritual community,” she said. “It’s kind of crowdsourced from people who are rockstar parents. There was a lot of community involvement. I just got to write it down.”

Today she is a curriculum developer for The Meeting House family of churches and that curriculum is being adopted by churches all over the world. (She’s also currently Interim Lead Pastor of the church’s Brantford site, one of 20 remote locations.)

Her publisher, Herald Press summarizes the book,

Children and youth will just “catch” the faith of their parents, right?

Not necessarily. Talking with kids about Jesus no longer comes naturally to many Christian parents. In Raising Disciples, pastor Natalie Frisk helps us reconnect faith and parenting, equipping parents to model what following Jesus looks like in daily life. Filled with authenticity, flexibility, humor, and prayer, Frisk outlines how parents can make openings for their children to experience God in their daily lives.

As curriculum pastor at The Meeting House, one of the largest churches in Canada, Frisk calls parents who follow Christ to ask the big questions about the spiritual formation of children and teens. In practical and thoughtful ways, she equips parents to disciple their kids in various stages of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Raising Disciples will awaken parents to the possibly of Jesus-centered parenting and encourage us to engage in the lost art of discipling our own kids.

Resound Magazine’s Shannon McBride continues Natalie’s story,

…[T]here are two parts to how parents can model faith to their kids: intentional practices and unintentional lived moments.

Intentional practices are things like praying with and in front of your kids and reading your Bible. “They see you doing it, so they know you value it,” she says.

Unintentional lived moments are things like modelling forgiveness to your kids. Frisk says parents should apologize to their kids when they do something wrong. “Get down to their level and ask for forgiveness. And forgive them when they apologize. That offers a glimpse of the heart of our Father God.”

9781513802589 | 216 pages, paper
Foreword by Marv Penner
available Parasource (Canada) & Spring Arbor (US)

Retailers: For your social media pages or website:


Canadian Dollar Losing Ground Against US Counterpart

After a couple of years of relative stability, the Canadian dollar has been losing ground more significantly over the past few weeks. The conversion rate that most of our stores use on imported goods, and the highest rate that our suppliers use, 1.4000, is no longer meaningful as this morning the cost of buying US dollars was over 1.4300 before Bank charges, which usually add another 2.5%.

Earlier today the Globe and Mail reported,

At 9:13 a.m. (13:13 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 1.3% lower at 1.4394 to the greenback, or 69.47 U.S. cents. The currency touched its weakest intraday level since January 2016 at 1.4408. (The loonie slipped further, to below the 69-cent level, later in the morning as oil prices continued to tank).

Stores which receive product directly from the US may need to adjust pricing. For example, invoices from Ingram from February were settled on March 15th if you have the credit card option. This means that books bought earlier in February have been charged to your store at an exchange rate that is now much higher than the day you checked them in. Similarly, titles you receive this week, if you are open at all, won’t be charged to your credit card until the 15th of April. It would certainly seem prudent at this point to use a higher conversion rate, such as 1.4500.

I would expect that suppliers such as Parasource and Word Alive would be following suit.

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Ontario’s Premiere Christian Retail Store Announces Closing

Family Christian excelled when it came to display aesthetics, as well as inventory, marketing and the enthusiasm of its staff.

Shocking. There are no other words.

This morning at 7:30 AM, a notice was sent to customers at Family Christian Bookstore in Burlington announcing the store’s closing late in the Spring. Family Christian (not related to the former U.S. chain) is the store that Christian Book Shop Talk has always regarded as Ontario’s finest: A two-story showcase of Christian resources that excelled in terms of ambience, inventory, marketing and the quality of its staff.

Family Christian has always been the store many of us would aspire to have, and it’s hard to read this letter from Jack & Karyn Huisman and their entire staff…

Dear Customers,

It is with great sadness that we inform you we will be closing the doors of The Family Christian Bookstore on June 20th 2020 for the last time. We thank you for six decades of wonderful customer interactions and many happy memories.

In 1960 Gerry and Paulina Denbok opened “The Burlington Book & Bible Store” on Glenwood School Drive with only $300 of inventory. In the 60 years since then the store has had its name changed and moved locations a few times, changed hands twice and has served a multitude of customers.

Times have changed, as have our customer’s shopping habits. While we still consider the products we sell to be life-shaping, the “Local Christian Bookstore” is no longer the primary place to purchase them.

The store won’t disappear without at least two major events:

Our first big event is coming up April 2nd to 4th with our Spring Warehouse Sale. We’ve purchased several skids of new products at deep discounts and it’s at this event that we’ll share more details of our Grand Finale Sale to follow!

With recent closings in Mississauga and Hamilton, this leaves only Good Books in Oakville serving the west region of Greater Toronto.

The store will most certainly be missed by customers, as well as suppliers, as Family Christian was most supportive of the industry.

The letter concludes,

May God receive the glory for the great things He has done through the store and through those of us who have had the honour to work here.

Thank you for 60 years of business and friendship. We have loved being part of your lives and we look forward to connecting with you over the coming months.

Family Christian’s Jack Huisman
2013 file photo



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Sermon on the Mount Goes Against the Grain of Society

The Sermon on the Mount in Our Secular Age by Douglas Webster (2020, Regent College Publishing)

There’s something oxymoronic about the phrase, academic booklet. For me, the word booklet implies something less than substantive. How can you have a scholarly booklet? Rather, I’d prefer to refer to Douglas Webster’s 52-page treatment of Matthew 5-7 as a monograph. Yes, I checked the definition just to be sure.

In those pages, former Tyndale Seminary professor Webster points out the counter-cultural nature of this teaching of Jesus, regardless of which culture we’re using as a reference point. Still, even as the words of Jesus arrest us in our tracks, the sermon is a guide for living, not a manifesto for a Christian takeover of the world stage.

There are also several pertinent quotes from other authors, many of which I’ve already underlined for future consideration. A page with ten discussion questions rounds out the book and adds value for small group use.

9781573835800 | 9.99 US


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Can Your Store Survive a One-Week or Two Week Shutdown?

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to gallop across the world, it’s time to consider the possibility that this could shut down our stores for several days. Furthermore, even if you stayed open, that’s no guarantee that customers would be out and about.

Can your store handle having the doors locked for an extended period in the critical weeks leading up to Easter?

Much depends on cash reserves. Phone bills, insurance and rent are somewhat fixed costs. You can turn down the heat and turn off the lights for some small savings. And sadly, you can make drastic cuts to payroll.

Trade accounts are another matter. Sure, some might wait, but too many of those situations and we’re seriously crippling the supply network. For them it also becomes a double-whammy if you’re calling to tell them to hold shipments because no one is at the store to sign for them. That places them in a position where they are not generating invoices.

There’s also the loss of fresh orders which represent future business. You need to be able to log in to your store’s website, Facebook page and email from home; but you also need to be getting the word out to encourage your customers to continue using those communications channels as well as your online ordering portal even if the brick and mortar store isn’t open.


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When Street Date Reminders Aren’t Included

I would estimate that at least half of the people currently reading this work in environments where there are multiple people opening shipments, checking product in, pricing product, and placing that product on the shelves.

Lately we’ve noticed that we’re not receiving street date (aka lay-down date) notifications as often for titles which have firm street dates in the United States. We’ve always honoured them, and besides, there are penalties if stores are caught cheating.

While I respect the principle of having uniform release dates, I can’t always catch every task staff are performing.

So the question is, if you don’t receive the notification, would you say,

(a) We have a system to alert us to hold certain products for certain dates,


(b) If we don’t get the notice, those items are slipping through and ending up on the sales floor.

For those of you not wishing to commit perjury, you can email me and I’ll post your comment anonymously!

Also, have any of you signed the street date affidavit with Ingram?

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The Truth About Us: An Exposé on Arrogance

I was formatting this for my primary blog this morning when I realized the U.S. release date is not until mid-April, and most of my readers are in the U.S. So I thought I’d share it here instead for those of you who might not have placed an order to this point. If you’re not carrying Brant Hansen, I’d recommend getting at least one of all three titles.

We have a rather high opinion of ourselves, and I say “we,” I mean you, me and the human race in general. Or, rather than ‘human race,’ Brant prefers to say, ‘the humans,’ as if he isn’t one of them. In a way he isn’t. Brant has a couple of personality exceptions that cause him to stand apart from how some view normalcy, but instead of hiding them or compensating for them, he wears them on his sleeve.

That’s the reason why, while it certainly isn’t a prerequisite to reading this book, I encourage people who don’t have The Brant Hansen Show in their radio market to take a couple of hours to listen to five or six episodes of the Brant and Sherri Oddcast (each runs about 20 minutes) to better understand what’s taking place in his books. In the end you might identify better and the truth is, we all have our personality quirks.

In looking back on my review of Blessed Are The Misfits (Brant’s second book), I noted that, “There’s a heck a lot of us out there who feel we just don’t fit in. Brant not only sees himself as a misfit, but he’s even been diagnosed with a few things just to make it official.” In many respects, it’s a book about accepting ourselves the way we are. Understanding that those of us in the church are what Henri Nouwen called “the community of the broken.”

But The Truth About Us (his newest) is more like his first, Unoffendable, which was a call for personal realignment. In my review of that book, I noted that, especially with today’s social media “We can be so quick to assume, to lash out, and to hurt. Our knee-jerk reactions aren’t good for the people in our line of fire, and they’re not good for us.” Of course we do this because we think we’re right.

And in The Truth About Us, Brant is essentially saying that we do things because we think we’re good. So this third book continues where the first left off.

Both anecdotally and statistically we think we’re better people than we are. This isn’t at all along the lines of Andy Stanley’s How Good is Good Enough, where he showing that we could never achieve right standing for salvation in terms of our personal righteousness, because before a holy God, the bar is impossibly high in terms of our merit.

No, that’s what I thought the book might be about before I started reading.

Rather, if anything is happening in a soteriological sense, it’s about how we see ourselves as already there, and although it goes beyond the scope of what Brant wrote, we see ourselves perhaps as not even needing a savior, since we’ve achieved goodness already.

The Truth About Us is really a mix of spiritual and psychological content. The book references a number of studies and in many ways reminded me of the writing and research style of Drew Dyck’s Your Future Self Will Thank You, which is about self-control.

Brant Hansen accomplishes in his third book what he does daily on the air: Mixing the silly with the serious to take a light-hearted approach to something at the core of our beings we need to carefully examine.

We’re not all that good.

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U. S. Chart-toppers Don’t Necessarily Cross the Border

I noticed the advertisement pictured here this morning on the Parasource consumer website’s landing page. I can’t complain about the discount for three reasons, (a) I don’t carry the title as I don’t see it doing well in our market, including reasons based on the author’s previous sales and a lack of interest here in the Enneagram; and (b) dealers were offered a generous discount on this that would allow any store to match the price; for this one they have created a level playing field.

The original dealer email had noted that the reason for the offer was that the book was charting in the top ten on sales charts in the U.S. and they were hoping to generate similar excitement for it here.

This is a two-edged sword.

On the one hand, you could argue that just because a title does well there doesn’t mean those sales are going to happen here. Furthermore, a book doing great in Nova Scotia may be having minuscule sales in the Prairies. My own chart, which I posted here last weekend, probably isn’t entirely consistent with your store.

On the other hand, publishers often compare cross border numbers. We’re only 10% of the U.S., and we also don’t have the same buy-in from the Christian public here, who themselves are a smaller percentage of the population here. But still, with all that factored in, I can imagine U.S. publishers looking at the orders, or YTD sales, and asking their Canadian distributors why they aren’t doing more.

Furthermore it’s not to late for this title to gain traction here. In the industry, these “sleeper” titles often break out slowly but eventually catch up.

It’s always worth looking closely at various U.S. charts (and the UK) and then making your own decisions.

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Spring Arbor Purges Specous Titles from Database

Have you ever opened a shipment from Spring Arbor only to discover that the title you thought you ordered simply wasn’t what it purported to be; or what it looked like it was going to be?

If you’ve spent any time simply scrolling the database, you know there are a number of lookalikes and items with similar or almost-similar titles that can create confusion. Whoever in your store clicks things into order carts must currently have their radar turned up high so you don’t get stuck. (Or worse, if the title slips through your system, so that your customer doesn’t feel cheated.)

Parent company Ingram has notified affected Lightning Source (print on demand) publishers they can expect to see their product removed completely by April 27th and showing as “cancelled.”

The following was excerpted from a 2-page notification on their website which you can read at this link. (Login may be required.) We applaud Ingram for taking this stand, knowing well that it will affect Lightning Source accounts which have contributed greatly to its bottom line.  (Trouble seeing it? It’s reiterated in the articles linked below.)

In a headline, Publisher’s Weekly called this “Content integrity.” It certainly reflects taking an ethical high road. The article also noted the policies mitigate against charges of copyright infringement.

As the policy impacts print product only, Michael Kozlowski at the GoodEReader blog noted, “It looks like the new Ingram policies are basically trying to filter out the dirge of crappy books, published by authors and small publishers.  Deception is one of the big hallmarks, and they are going to do their best to lay down the ban hammer. I just wish Amazon and Kobo would implement similar policies, indie authors are destroying these ecosystems with their garbage.”